How is first-party data being leveraged by publishers?

We’ve known for a while now that third-party data is being phased out of the ad ecosystem because of growing privacy concerns. But how are publishers leveraging first-party data to get ahead of the trend? And what results are they already getting?

The Takeaways:
  • The combination of recently introduced privacy laws such as GDPR and browser changes, including Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox anti-tracking measures; on top of Google phasing out third-party cookies by 2022, are forcing publishers to change how they operate, whilst maintaining their ability to target their audiences.
  • Many leading publishers are already beginning to find ways to take control of their first-party data and own their strong, direct relationships with consumers.
  • Those who are acting now are already enjoying the benefits of owning their audience data, from the ability to transition to subscription models, to being able to launch new products that your audience wants and will pay for, and more.
The Financial Times

The Times will no longer use third-party data to target ads come 2021. In their place, the publisher has been building out a proprietary first-party data platform.

  • Thanks to the information they’ve gathered about their own readers, the Times has been able to develop new products that readers will want and pay for.
    • Recognizing the loyalty of its aficionados, The New York Times made its crossword puzzle into a separate subscription product.
    • The Times used its understanding of its readers to create new products that it believed would be attractive to them, such as Cooking and Watching.
    • A year after they announced they were phasing out all third-party data, the Times announced that 60% of its revenues came from subscriptions. This non-reliance on ad revenue improves the user experience.
  • Yes, but: Not all publishers are established enough to have the scale required to build their own first-party data sets.

The roll-up: A cookieless future doesn’t have to be a dooming prospect. For publishers acting now, the move towards first-party data is definitely proving to be a step in the right direction.

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